7-year-old's threatening note regarding home PC security policies

Redditor Surprisemailbox posted this image of a note left by a seven year old for her parents, regarding security policies at home: "If you put a pasword on that I will make your life a nitmare."

The day Poesy leaves me a comparable note, I will have validation that all my parenting was not in vain. (Of course, that's assuming she doesn't just shoulder-surf the password and leave me in a fool's paradise.)

My friends 7 year old sister left this note for her parents on their computer. (via Neatorama)


  1. Seeing this note would pretty much guarantee that I would put a password on the computer in my house.  Not that it would matter, because someone’s computer privileges would also be revoked. :-)

      1. Encouraging a child to leave notes like this would be grooming a douchebag. Or hipster – same diff.

      2.  I’ve never gone black hat, but my parents’ “internet protection software” that kept me from looking at alternative news sites* was the first thing I ever cracked and part of the reason I learned to love knowing about computers. Now I’m getting a Comp Sci degree to accompany my useless liberal arts degree, so I guess it all worked out in the end?

        *I was a weird 12-year-old
        *They were listed as “Occult/Paranormal” by the software, no clue why.

  2. As a parent and uncle I am familiar with the syndrome. As a software engineer I truly hope that we are breeding a generation of skilled hackers.

    1. “You can use the good computer again when you program your first dictionary attack password cracker. Now eat your broccoli.”

      1. I agree with this sentiment (and this is not the first time it’s been expressed), but the default state of security that I use on my computers wouldn’t actually be crackable by a kid, even if they were able to look up how using another computer.

        So I hope that people who do this to their kids (and if/when I become a parent I will do the same sorts of things) make the challenges realistic, and increasing in difficulty. Make it trivial to crack at first, assuming you’re not actually worried about physical security on the computer in your living room.

    1. If you didn’t negotiate a better deal with your parents than the one that they offered, you weren’t paying attention.

      1. Ahhh, Antinous. At times like this, when you just nail it in a funny way, I forget I ever had mean thoughts about you.

      2.  But there was a subtle way to negotiate where the p’s thought they came out the winners. Wink, wink, nod, nod.

    1. I could have seen my daughter doing this at seven. But: she wouldn’t have really have meant it; and we would have put the password in place, anyway.

      If you can’t see the humor in the bizarre stuff that kids do, parenthood will just suck.

      tl’dr version: parents shouldn’t take themselves or their children too seriously.

      1. “My kid is cute, not over indulged”  yep.   I’ve met your style of parenthood in lots of public places – the type of kids that are the reason childfree groups exist.

    1. C’mon, where do you live that 7 year olds have the power and composure to threaten adults? Ambiguity was right, the kiddo was probably trying to be cute. If it works for Clint Eastwood why wouldn’t it work for him?

    2.  The NYT ran an article in last Sunday’s magazine about child psychopaths. Some people seem to be born psychopaths and it’s especially difficult to figure out how to treat them as innocent children while they threaten, charm, and manipulate their way without guilt to adulthood.

  3. “The day Poesy leaves me a comparable note, I will have validation that all my parenting was not in vain.”
    So this is a…good thing?

  4. Boingers adore this philosophy, but only when it’s big, grown adults talking about it.

    1. Burn!  It’s totally hypocritical for us to think that a parent should be able to tell their child what they can or cannot access when we don’t like to be told what we can or cannot access, right?  
      Pop quiz: 1) is it hypocritical to expect your plumber to know how to fix broken pipes if you yourself have no idea?   2) Is it hypocritical to drive the speed limit if you think the speed limits are too low?  

      1. Brilliant. You are on your game tonight. That’s going to go over the head of anyone who hasn’t had children and most who have.

  5. This is not a positive relationship with DRM.  This is a trust problem between parent and child.  Even a teenager should not WANT to make their parent’s life a nightmare.

    Either that or it’s a cute little joke.

  6. Young parents are so cute. Wait until your smart, sweet 7 year old turns 15, sprouts a body like a younger, prettier Jessica Alba, and loses her ambition to be an astronaut. Wait until she draws the attention of a 19 year old dropout. Wait until you hear fragments of a conversation that include “we can get married in Arkansas”. I promise, you will be stunned by the speed of your transformation from Hip Open Guy to a man whose only ambition in life is to stymie her every communication channel. We’re all like you when they’re seven. Eventually most of us learn it’s impossible to rely upon a single mantra for raising children. Children vary; so should the parenting skills.

    1. There is no single mantra for raising children.  
      There is no single mantra for raising children.  
      There is no single mantra for raising children.  
      There is no single mantra for raising children.  …

    2. It’s their primary ‘job’ to test limits.
      If they’re simply stymied, they _will_ find a way around.
      When our 14 YO daughter met your description and ‘fell in love’ with a 20 YO guy, we gritted our teeth and made him part of our family, he nearly moved in, lived by the family rules, went on vacation with us, etc. Yes, she’d been on BC for over a year.
      3 years later, he broke her heart, moved out, she survived, is in an amazingly healthy relationship for the last 2+ years, on her own, Dean’s list, etc.
      If we’d fought her she’d have ‘won’; I did; her mother did… in our FU’d youth.
      At least this was all under our roof and watch.

      1. I’m glad your situation turned out okay. Ours did too. Actually, our daughter was 14 as well. We endured six months of our own police state until we said they could date after she turned 16. By then, of course, the weasel’s glamour had worn thin, even in her eyes.
        But I do not  understand why you “grit your teeth” and faked approval.  How could you have looked forward to a family vacation under those circumstances? Or even a family dinner? Mostly, I wonder if you prevented the relationship from dying an early natural death by enabling and funding a situation neither of them was prepared to support.  Three years is an abnormally long time at age 14. And breaking it off with a boyfriend is a lot harder when he lives in the guest room.

        Ultimately you made the call that seemed best for you and your family. Kids know when they’re loved. Two thumbs up.

        1.  The teeth gritting was mostly coming to terms with the situation, realizing we had limited options with a very determined girl.
          The fellow is an OK guy, often entertaining, sometimes a help.
          By the time they parted ways, he was more away than around.
          Glad your situation worked out, also. Thanks.

          1.  @facebook-500021466:disqus The real problem comes when the 14 year old wants to date a 20 year old guy.

      2. There’s a lot more to this story than what you’re saying.  You put your 13yo daughter on BC, a year BEFORE this fellow showed up?  So, who was she ‘dating’ in 7th grade?  And you let an adult man have a sexual relationship with her in your home for 3 years until she was finally old enough for it not to be statutory rape?

        Things were out of control long before this guy showed up.

        1. Feh. My friends did something similar with their daughter. She maintained a 4.0 average, got full scholarships and practiced safe sex throughout. She (safely) fooled around at 13; now she’s a boring nerd at 20.

          1. Thats the way I was and am now, I’d like to think I turned out great for being the shitty teenage drug user that I was. I lived thru it and learned and now I hope teach my brother and sister a few things, and not to make my mistakes. which so far is going well : )

    3. Mine are still young & cute… But still, I think you’re right…but also wrong.

      Of course, when my little angel is getting the wrong sort of attention from the wrong boys, I’ll inevitably be unwilling transformed into panoptikon-building-spiky-gatekeeper-dad… that pretty much goes without saying, sad tho it is… However, the take-home message from this 7-year old’s note (for me, personally) is that stymieing communication channels doesn’t work. Mainly because there’s a completely linear relationship between parental-stymie-effort, and percentage of offspring communication that will be diverted to back-channels.
      Example: I only know one teen whose parents revoked facebook access. The same week, a friend lent her a secondhand smartphone and she was back on facebook 5 days a week. Evenings and weekends, the smartphone goes home in her BFF’s schoolbag – parents don’t know it exists. I dunno how she pays for the SIM or how she got hands on it… I do know it was trivially easy, and is cheap enough so the parents won’t notice tho. Lockdown is counterproductive most times (not every time, granted).

      1. They are clever; no argument. They chafe under a yoke; that’s a good thing. But when push comes to shove it’s about will. And my will that she not go down the path she aimed for was stronger than hers to go there. It got worse before it got better.  She took alcohol onto the school bus that carted them to diving practice; she was removed from the school team. She’d set her alarm to wake her at 2am so she could get on the PC, so the PC came out of her room. She snuck a land line phone in to her room, so I took her doors off the hinges. She’d write love letters at 3am, so I removed the light bulbs from the fixtures.

        But through it all there was no yelling or screaming. I simply did what I had to in response to what she did. She seemed to understand. She lost her PC, her phone, her bedroom doors, and her light bulbs. Still, we had great family vacations, talked endlessly, and managed to have some fun. I was lucky. For one, she was depended upon us for transportation. Also, I wasn’t working. She knew I meant it when I said it was fine with me if she went to Hell because I had nothing but free time to follow her in and pull her ass out.

        She made it back on to the team the next year; her coach and the school saw her effort and backed her. She learned about losing self-respect and, more importantly, she learned how to regain it.
        The details change from decade to decade. Last year MySpace, this year Facebook. Last year borrowed cell phones, this year pre-paid phones. In the end it all boils down to a matter of will.

        1. She snuck a land line phone in to her room, so I took her doors off the hinges. She’d write love letters at 3am, so I removed the light bulbs from the fixtures.

          Why yes, this seems an entirely healthy and normal parenting method.

          1. My point is this: I hope Cory Doctorow recognizes that sometimes teenagers need protection from themselves.

            Imagine this: You discover, to your horror, that your 14-year-old son is part of a gang that bullies gays. Wouldn’t you intervene immediately? Wouldn’t you get busy trying to discover (and fix) whatever malfunctioned within him? Wouldn’t one of your first acts be to separate him from this peer group during non-school hours?  And wouldn’t you want to make it impossible for him to use to internet to hurt anyone else?

  7. I guess I wasn’t made for parenthood… this kind of so-called ‘precociousness’ just sounds like an over-privileged asshole in the making.

  8. If I got a note like that from my kid my first reaction would be ‘game on!’

    My child’s life would then consist of reading the newspaper for entertainment and broccoli at every meal.

    1.  Newspapers can be surprisingly risque. Especially if it’s a non-religious conservative paper. (Maybe titillation sells more?)

  9. If my 7 year old wrote that note he wouldn’t be on the computer for a long time.  Sorry, but threats cannot work – I don’t threaten him and he shouldn’t threaten me.  It may be cute, but my one main rule of parenting is to not reward what I do not want to see (i.e. tantrums and threats).

    As far as hacking, I suppose that will come, but he isn’t exactly alone in the house at 7 years old.  Later sure, I suspect 10 years from now I won’t even know what he has done on the computer (his, not mine).  But he won’t be threatening me about it.

  10. I could sure spell better than that when I was 7.  I’d be more impressed if she was 4.

  11. Let’s not judge this kid until she grows up into an adult who thinks she can ascertain the personality of a child and the skills of her parents based on one scribbled sentence.

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